Insider Interviews: Film Professionals Discuss Their Experience in EPI’s European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA Programme


    POTSDAM: In this exclusive interview, we explore the experiences and insights of four accomplished professionals who are enrolled in the European Film Business and Law LL.M | MBA master's programme at the Erich Pommer Institut (EPI). From Bratislava and Prague to Budapest and Tallinn, these individuals bring diverse backgrounds and expertise to the discussion, offering valuable perspectives on the distinctive benefits and opportunities offered by this unique international programme.

    Could you tell us where you are from, what company you work for and why you decided to participate in the European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA programme?

    Marek Martinka: I'm from Prague, Czech Republic. I started a boutique law firm here with a focus on copyright and entertainment law. My aim is to offer high-quality legal services with deep industry knowledge, including film. The Czech film market is small in the EU, so we need to look beyond it. I wanted to learn more about European film business, law, and financing, to Marek Martinka, source: EPIgiveour clients a more global approach. Therefore, the programme was a perfect fit for me.

    Olga Hartsuk: I'm from Estonia and have over a decade of experience in TV production, with the last four years as a film line producer. I work at Nafta Films, a pan-Baltic independent production company. My projects often address social, political, and psychological issues, and minority representation. My passion is to create content with a global impact and develop sustainable methods for co-financing and coproducing films in Europe. I joined the European Film Business and Law Master’s programme to deepen my understanding of the legal and financial aspects of the European film industry.

    Zuzana Bielikova: I am from Slovakia and currently serve as a film commissioner at the Slovak Film Commission. I chose the European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA programme course to gain a comprehensive education from top academics and industry professionals. This programme is vital for expanding my expertise in the business and legal aspects of the film sector. The multidisciplinary approach will help me navigate the industry and contribute effectively to the development of the audiovisual sector in Slovakia and Europe.

    Balázs Zachar: I am a freelance producer and lawyer from Budapest, Hungary. I work primarily with Proton Cinema and other production companies. My specialisation in audiovisual and copyright law has been beneficial for my film projects and rights-clearance work for international films and series. Given the limited creative space for independent filmmaking in Hungary, I view the European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA programme as a natural progression in my career. It offers valuable insights for both producers and entertainment lawyers, benefiting my dual roles.

    How does the EPI Executive master’s programme prepare students to adapt to rapid changes in the film market and what strategies have you learned to stay ahead of Zuzana Bielikova, source: EPIindustry trends?

    Zuzana Bielikova: The European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA course prepares students to adapt to rapid changes in the film market by addressing challenges from creative, legal and business perspectives. The curriculum integrates theoretical knowledge with practical application, ensuring students are well-prepared for the evolving dynamics of the industry.

    One significant benefit has been the extensive networking opportunities, which have expanded my professional network and career prospects. During the course, I implemented a new digital marketing strategy to enhance outreach and engagement, and revised internal policies to align with European law standards. These improvements have streamlined operations and ensured compliance with the latest legal frameworks.

    The education and experiences from the programme have enabled me to stay ahead of industry trends and adapt to the fast-paced changes in the film market, positioning me as a forward-thinking leader in the audiovisual sector.

    Networking is essential for career advancement. How has the European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA programme facilitated networking opportunities with industry professionals, and can you share examples of how these connections have positively impacted your career trajectory?

    Olga Hartsuk, source: EPIOlga Hartsuk: Networking is pivotal in our field, and this programme excels in creating platforms for meaningful engagement with industry professionals. Through guest lectures, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with accomplished professionals and peers. Highlights include tackling financial challenges with Sarah Nagel and Isabell Wiegand from In Between Film, learning about completion bond work with Boris Grönemeyer from Guaranteed Completions, and exploring copyright issues with Stéphanie Berland from Steering Legal and Susan Cleary from IFTA.

    Insights from Juliane Schulze of Juliane Schulze Media Consulting have been transformative, and Sol Bondy from One Two Films has shared invaluable knowledge about his company’s unique approach. I’m looking forward to meeting teams from Mubi and Alphapanda in the coming months and collaborating with them on our module project.

    These connections are crucial for mentorship and collaborative projects. I am constantly exploring new and effective business models that could benefit the European film industry. Being a member of the EPI alumni network provides substantial support and endless opportunities for networking.

    Marek Martinka: One of the things I value most about the programme is the presence of so many remarkable personalities, both lecturers and students, who come from various countries and backgrounds. The programme has done an excellent job attracting such diverse talent. Personally, I received a lot of helpful guidance and references, which went beyond my expectations.

    Balázs, you have recently taken part as an expert in the EPI “Clearing Rights” workshop in Berlin. Reflecting on your experiences both as a student and now as an expert at Balazs Zachar, source: EPIthe Erich Pommer Institut, how do you see the institute fostering a sense of community and collaboration among film professionals?

    Balázs Zachar: I have been observing the work of EPI for more than a decade and have had the opportunity to attend several of their events and workshops. The dedication of the management team to maintaining high standards and relevance, the wisely curated topics and the well-recruited expert team all guarantee the sustainable quality of their courses and workshops. Through the MBA programme, I have built a great network of producers and film professionals.

    I must emphasize the cooperative approach of the professors and experts, who are genuinely interested in exchanging views and thoughts. This makes both the MBA and LLM programmes exciting forums for lively debates about current trends and issues in our industry. This collaborative spirit is very much in line with the institutional standards upheld by the University of Potsdam and the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, EPI’s partners in running these Master’s degrees.

    Based on your experience, why would you recommend the European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA to other aspiring film professionals? What unique benefits or opportunities does it offer that you think make it worth pursuing?

    Marek Martinka: The programme covers more than what film schools teach. It is probably the best choice for learning how to deal with legal issues in cross-border projects, making a financing plan and following current trends in the film industry.

    Zuzana Bielikova: The European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA offers an unparalleled blend of theoretical knowledge and practical experience, extensive networking opportunities and a collaborative learning environment. It equips aspiring film professionals with the tools and connections needed to excel in the dynamic and evolving film industry. For anyone looking to advance their career and make a significant impact in the audiovisual field, this programme is undoubtedly worth pursuing.

    Olga Hartsuk: I recommend the master’s course for anyone serious about a career in European film. It uniquely combines business knowledge and legal insights, which are invaluable in this industry. The programme thoroughly covers the economic and regulatory aspects of film, and encourages creativity and innovation. Students gain practical experience through case studies and real-world projects. Overall, it's a solid choice for those looking to deepen their understanding of the European film industry and to develop skills important for success in this field.


    In the words of these industry insiders, the European Film Business and Law LL.M. | MBA programme at EPI stands as a beacon of opportunity for professionals seeking to elevate their careers in the dynamic world of audiovisual arts. This joint initiative with the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF and the University of Potsdam offers a blend of academic rigor, practical experience and invaluable networking, equipping individuals with the tools and connections necessary to thrive in today's competitive landscape.

    Applications for this transformative journey are open until 31 July 2024. For more information and to apply, visit EPI's website.

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